COMPANIES: Brickability to Sphere

Published by Directorzone Markets Ltd on March 18, 2019, 9:00 am in News, Other

IMAGE: courtesy of Bekir Dönmez from Pexels



movies - retail - retro cars - medical devices - restaurants & bars - gift wholesaler

- feminine hygiene - -knowledge-sharing - building materials -

wood products - eco ingredients


Middlesex x 2 :: Surrey x 2 :: Worcestershire :: Manchester :: Isle of Wight :: London x 2 :: Wales


West London Film Studios | Elbrook Cash & Carry £62.9m | Morgan Motor Company £33m | Aortech International $0.5m | Brasserie Bar Co | Budget Trading £36m | Natracare £19.1m | Sphere Knowledge | Brickability £140m | Accsys €60.9m | Itaconix £0.8m


News about 11 UK growth companies and/or accelerators + turnover in the GRID marketplace 3rd – 16th March 2019:



Cash-and-carry king curries favour with Hollywood | Liam Kelly, The Sunday Times. March 3 2019


WEST LONDON FILM STUDIOS: movies - Middlesex

DZ profile: Wlfs Ltd (West London Film Studios)

Business: studio space and facilities for film and television production, along with commercials and stills photography. Recent hits that have been filmed there include the Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody and Stan & Ollie, the Laurel and Hardy movie.

Location: Hayes, Middlesex

Investment: Bought by Frank Khalid in 2005



DZ profile: Elbrook (cash & Carry) Limited

Business: The cash-and-carry business which specialises in selling beer, wine and spirits. 1984…£60,000 bank loan to buy out of liquidation a nearby cash-and-carry store. Growth was so rapid that moved from Stratford to a bigger site in Barking within one year. …bought a second site, in Mitcham, south London, in 1993.

Launched: 1984

Location: Mitcham, Surrey

Founder: Frank Khalid. In 2003, Khalid opened his own curry house next door. In 2005, he bought WEST LONDON FILM STUDIOS …….struck a deal with actor Mark Wahlberg and rapper P Diddy to be the British distributor of AQUAHYDRATE, a water brand they co-own, last year. Frank Khalid, who has other interests, include a shareholding in TOUCH SKY GROUP, a sports agency.

Staff: 60

Financials: sales of £62.9m and pre-tax profits of £2m in the year ending July 2017.

Investment: Khalid owns a majority stake. His brothers, Amjad and Shimshad, hold small stakes.



MORGAN MOTOR COMPANY: retro cars - Worcestershire

Private equity group acquires majority Morgan stake | Peter Campbell and Matthew Rocco, FT. March 6, 2019


DZ profile: Morgan Motor Company Limited

Business: British sports car manufacturer which makes around 750 hand-built vehicles a year, styled on 1950s designs. Morgan has thrived in recent years by selling cars to enthusiasts, with profits tripling over the past four years to record levels.

Launched: 1909

Location: Malvern, Worcestershire

Founder: H.F.S. Morgan

Staff: Dominic Riley, chairman

Financials: recorded £3.2m in profit last year on £33m of revenues

Investment: Italy’s INVESTINDUSTRIAL, which is the largest shareholder in ASTON MARTIN, has acquired a majority stake and the Morgan family will retain minority ownership


1. Investindustrial, which invests primarily in southern European medium-sized companies, said it would support Morgan in accelerating product development, expanding global distribution and launching new events for customers. The company invested in Aston Martin in 2012, overseeing a turnround at the group before selling down part of its stake in an IPO late last year. The group previously invested in Italian motorcycle manufacturer DUCATI, and its current portfolio includes shoemaker SERGIO ROSSI.

2. Morgan also introduced a new model at the Geneva Motor Show - where the deal was announced - the Plus Six, which replaces the Plus Eight as its most expensive. Morgan plans to double its sales over three to five years, and expand its range of hand-built sports cars. … is likely to refurbish its factory in Malvern, Worcestershire, and hire additional production staff but will not open a new facility. The existing site once previously produced 1,200 vehicles a year, when the company re-launched its three-wheeler.



AORTECH INTERNATIONAL: medical devices - Surrey

Tech helps small players break into healthcare market | Aliya Ram, FT. March 8, 2019


DZ profile: Aortech International Plc

Business: “…is focused on the commercialization of its world leading biomedical polymer technology, components and medical devices.” After more than three rounds of clinical failures, is preparing to return to market with a new product that will use its synthetic polymers in grafts and patches…. its “Elast-Eon” polymer, which is used in cardiovascular devices, has formed the basis of its business so far, generating licence and royalty fees. However, it now plans to sell the material for use in other medical products that rely at the moment on tissue from cows and pigs

Launched: 2002

Location: Surrey

Financials: revenues $538,000 in the year to March 31, 2018.

Investment: has been listed in London since 1997 (AIM 2002)



BRASSERIE BAR CO: restaurants & bars - Middlesex

Chef Raymond Blanc’s restaurant empire slips into the rouge | The Sunday Times. March 10 2019 


DZ profile: Brasserie Bar Co Limited

Business: the holding company that owns Brasserie Blanc restaurants and the White Brasserie Company pub chain

Launched: 2006

Location: Teddington, Middlesex

Founder: Raymond Blanc, 69, opened his first restaurant in Oxford in 1977.

Staff: Mark Derry, chief executive

Financials: pre-tax losses of £9.5m for the year ending last June, compared with £6.9m in 2017.

Sales grew 15% to £54.2m

Investment: owned by management and private equity firm CORE CAPITAL.



BUDGET TRADING: gift wholesaler - Manchester

Windfall for gift boss Paul Lavery | The Sunday Times.  March 10 2019


DZ profile: Budget Trading Limited

Business: gift wholesaler which designs and sells greetings cards and gift wrap, as well as other stationery and celebratory products to SME businesses. It operates seven cash and carry warehouses in the UK and Ireland

Launched: 1984

Location: Manchester

Founder: Paul Lavery, 63. Lavery and his brother, Martin, borrowed £7,000 from Bank of Ireland to buy a newsagent in the 1970s. After early success selling greetings cards, the pair turned to wholesaling.

Staff: 180

Financials: Last financial year BGC reported sales of £36m

Investment: has sold a 51% stake in Manchester-based to the Canadian private equity firm ARDENTON CAPITAL CORPORATION.


1. Ardenton will work closely with BGC’s management team in developing an e-commerce platform and driving further geographic expansion, starting with the opening of a new showroom in Nottingham, East Midlands.

2. Ardenton has been active in the UK market since opening its Manchester office in early 2017. BGC marks the Vancouver-headquartered investor’s fourth investment in England, following Corbetts the Galvanizers, PP Control & Automation, and Shaftec Automotive.



NATRACARE: feminine hygiene - Isle of Wight

Get me to church — after my call with Waitrose | Liam Kelly, The Sunday Times. March 10 2019


DZ profile: Bodywise Limited (Natracare)

Business: feminine hygiene brand …makes environment-friendly tampons, sanitary towels and wipes …products which are free from plastic, perfume and chlorine. As well as making feminine care products, Natracare produces wipes that can be flushed down the lavatory without causing “fatbergs”.

Launched: 1980

Location: Cowes, Isle of Wight

Founders: Susie Hewson, 66 and husband Stephen …eventually secured a £90,000 overdraft from NatWest and worked from home.

Staff: employs 20 people in Bristol, six in America and three in South Korea.

Financials: pre-tax profit of £4.1m on sales of £19.1m last year

Investment: the Hewsons own the company outright

News: on The Sunday Times Profit Track 100 league table of private companies with the fastest-growing profits.



SPHERE KNOWLEDGE: knowledge-sharing - London

Tech prodigy Nick D’Aloisio stumbles with secretive Q&A app | Tim Bradshaw, FT. March 16, 2019


DZ profile: Sphere Knowledge Limited

Business: a knowledge-sharing community, where people can swap information and insights through an instant-messaging-style app. Mr D’Aloisio describes the project as a “new AI company in stealth mode”.

Launched: 2015

Location: London

Founder: Nick D’Aloisio, 23 and chief technology officer Tomas Halgas, who he met at Oxford. As a teenager,  D’Aloisio, sold his two-year-old news summary start-up SUMMLY to YAHOO for $30m in 2013. After leaving Yahoo in 2015 to study computer science and philosophy at Oxford, Mr D’Aloisio spent a summer as “entrepreneur in residence” at Airbnb …where he came up with the idea for Sphere.

Staff: 30

Investment: has raised a total of $30m to date from backers including Michael Moritz. Last year, Sphere closed a $20m Series B funding round led by INDEX VENTURES.

News: Over 500,000 users had downloaded an early version of Sphere called Zwerl - a “global community of experts” - from Apple and Google’s app stores by the end of last year. Intended as a small-scale pilot to test new ways of harnessing the wisdom of crowds, the “live” Q&A app promised instant responses to users’ questions on a wide range of topics, from tips on travel, cookery and dating, to health, financial and legal advice. Zwerl’s online presence has now been cancelled in preparation for a fresh start under a new domain. is in invite-only “beta” testing mode and much of the content currently mirrors the same questions and answers posted on Zwerl.



BRICKABILITY: building materials - Wales

Bricks supplier Brickability eyeing £200m float to build up its empire | Russell Lynch, The Evening Standard. 15 March 2019


DZ profile: Brick-ability Ltd.

Business: building materials firm - one of the UK’s leading suppliers of facing bricks, stone, paving and cladding to housebuilders and building contractors with subsidiaries providing roof tiles, radiators and internal doors.

Launched: 1985

Location: Bridgend, Bridgend County Borough, Wales

Financials: £140m in revenues and underlying profits of £14.3m. Forecasts £500m in sales over the next five years.

Investment: Private equity house PROMETHEAN INVESTMENTS backed a management buyout in 2016. Has appointed CENKOS to work on a launch on AIM this year. Is planniing to raise £75m to reduce debts and enable further deals.



Eco-friendly upstarts face tough challenges to build trust | Anna Gross, FT. March 15, 2019


ACCSYS: wood products - London

DZ profile: Accsys Technologies Plc

Business: chemical technology group that specialises in durable wood products. Uses a patented version of the chemical process of acetylation to change the make-up of sustainably sourced wood products and increase their rot resistance and longevity

Launched: 1999

Location: London

Staff: Paul Clegg, chief executive

Financials: to 31-Mar-18 Revenue €60.9m; Pre-Tax -€10.40m. Increased revenues by 12 per cent in the first half of 2018

Investment: Quoted on London Stock Exchange AIM - since 26 Oct 2005 - and NYSE Euronext stock exchanges.


1. The share price is up by 87 per cent — from 59p to 109p — since March 2017, when the company entered joint ventures with MEDITE and BP.

2. …is developing a manufacturing plant in Hull, which is expected to open in 2019 and plans to expand in the Netherlands this year. It is also in talks with partners in the US and Asia about expanding into those markets.



ITACONIX: eco ingredients - London

DZ profile: Itaconix Plc

Business: produces sustainable polymers from renewable resources that can be used in detergents, dish washer tablets and other household and personal hygiene products.

Launched: 2012

Location: London

Financials: revenues constant at £0.8m, while costs were cut.  ...ebitda loss of £4m.

Investment: floated on AIM in 2012

News: significant product collaborations this year with global chemical companies NOURYON and CRODA, for Itaconix’s polymers to be used in non-phosphate detergents.